The owners of The Iron Horse marked the restaurant's 40-year anniversary Wednesday morning to the delight of many fans.
The restaurant officially reopened March 5, less than five months after a fire destroyed the kitchen. Since then, the restaurant has been packed with customers every night, Kitchen Manager Sean Tremble said.
"If everything keeps going the way it's going, we're going to be open for at least 40 more years," Tremble said.
Dozens of family, friends, customers and employees packed into the restaurant Wednesday while local clergy blessed several rooms. Pastor Tom Korkuch of the United Methodist Church led a prayer in front of the restaurant. Pastor Tom Pranschke of the Zion Lutheran Church blessed the renovated kitchen and the dining room and Pastor Rodney Haveman of Parkside Community Church blessed the bar area.
Owner Lee Tremble said there may have been some divine intervention in the restuarant's fast renovation time. He consulted with local clergy after the fire and joked that he has witnessed The Iron Horse's stuffed burgers perform miracles on customers who had been feeling bad.
"It's great having the clergy council here," Sean Tremble said. "There is a lot to be said for the energy they give us.
The Iron Horse's renovations include extensive work to the kitchen. Most of the dining areas are the same as they were before the fire, but with some new paint and carpets. Handicap access has also been improved to the building, which dates back to the 1880s. Sean Tremble credited the hard work of a team of local contractors — who also happened to be regular customers and friends — for the quick turnaround.
Architect William Martin cut the ribbon in front of the restaurant, flanked by the Tremble family and the carpenters, electricians, plumbers and other workers who helped restore the restaurant after the fire.
Lee Tremble said he preferred to have the team who helped repair the restaurant do the ribbon-cutting, rather than politicians.
"In my world, these powerful folks trump those powerful folks," Tremble said.